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Fitness For Stroke Survivors- What Do We Know?

“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it

would be the single most widely prescribed

and beneficial medicine in the nation.”

-Robert Butler, National Institute on Aging

It is known that exercise is good “medicine” for people. Following are a list of some of the benefits that exercise provides us:

  1. Reduced fatigue- while it may seem counterintuitive, exercise improves oxygenation to our system which can increase energy levels and reduce fatigue.

  2. Helps with Depression- exercise gets some “feel good” brain chemicals flowing and this can help with a person’s feelings of depression

  3. Improved Sleep- regular exercise has been shown to help improve sleep.

  4. Strong bones- resistance and impact activities help improve bone strength, which can help us be less likely for fractures in a fall or accident.

  5. Stress management- regular exercise has also been shown to help reduced stress levels.

And, since Stroke Survivors are people, I know that these positive effects of exercise will exist for them as well.

And, in addition to the general health benefits of exercise, research is showing that there are specific benefits to exercise that Stroke Survivors receive.

The research around exercise after stroke is still developing. There are not yet specific parameters for Frequency, Intensity, Time or Type of exercise. However, there are published articles noting that high intensity interval training can have positive effects on circulating brain chemicals that help with neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change and adapt to experiences. And there is also research that strength training the less affected side leads to increases in strength of the more affected side.

However, many of the studies out there are very dependent on use of specific exercise equipment in medical facilities.

I know that many people don’t have access to any of these types of facilities or equipment. But, that does not mean that you can’t get the benefits of exercise to add to your journey of improvement after stroke. In fact, I know that you can get a good workout at home- even if you have to stay sitting in a chair. In my next blog, I will give you an Exercise Snack that you can use to sneak in a work out, or Prime your brain for your stroke improvement exercises.

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